2015 General AssemblyEconomic FreedomEconomic Policy

Arkansas Chamber of Commerce: Worse Than President Obama on Economic Freedom

Hair Braiding
If you are to the left of President Obama, it’s safe to say you’re out of touch with the vast majority of Arkansans.
The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce has somehow managed to occupy that space.
Yesterday, President Obama praised states for rolling back onerous regulations that stifle economic opportunity for workers.
Obama said:

States are leading the way in removing unnecessary licensing requirements so workers can start filling up some of the jobs that they already have the skills for.

These remarks were given during a speech to the National Governors Association in which Gov. Asa Hutchinson was in attendance.
Although one of the most left-leaning presidents in history is coming out in favor of occupational licensure reform, Arkansas’s Chamber of Commerce is actively lobbying to squash it through misinformation and fear-mongering.
As Dan Greenberg, the Advance Arkansas Institute’s President, said yesterday:

As someone who’s actually read HB 1158 (click here for our paper on it), I was taken aback by the state Chamber’s predictions of doom. When I read the bill, it was obvious that it would lead to some relatively minor regulatory reforms; the Chamber, on the other hand, argued that the bill would eliminate every occupational regulation in Arkansas. It was almost as if their people hadn’t read the same bill I had.

You’d think that the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, which (allegedly) advocates for a “lower cost of doing business, fairer taxes, fairer regulations, and less regulatory paperwork,” would want to be at the forefront of supporting bills like State Rep. Richard Womack’s HB 1158, which would make it easier for average Arkansans to challenge state government regulations that make it harder to work.
Arkansas’s Chamber of Commerce needs to catch up with the rest of the nation, and even President Obama, in realizing that occupational licensing needs reform.
Earlier today, the Chamber sent out a statement about HB 1158, which read in part: “the State Chamber/AIA would be delighted to host a meeting of the coalition with the bill’s supporters to discuss concerns about the bill’s intent.”
When I asked Greenberg about this, he responded:

“I myself would be delighted to speak to the Chamber about HB 1158. I’ve been told by supporters of HB 1158 that they have already attempted to talk to the Chamber about it without success. I contacted the Chamber myself more than a week ago in an attempt to discuss the bill with them, and I believe that if they had taken the time to read it more carefully, the many statements they have sent out about it would have been quite different.”

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